With the recent arrival of international superstars Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard, I have decided to go back and rank the greatest players to have played in the New York/New Jersey area.
The bright lights of New York City have attracted many players. While some of these players have yet to impact their teams, that does not take away from what they have done in their careers up to this point. I decided to rank the players based on what they achieved individually as well as their team's achievements.
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Marcos Senna(New York Cosmos)
The Brazilian born Spanish international center midfielder was key in Spain's Euro 2008 victory. Senna was also a very influential player throughout the 2000s for Villarreal CF who were a very strong team before falling on harder times recently.
Giorgio Chinaglia (New York Cosmos)
Unlike anyone else on this this list, Chinaglia had most of his best years stateside. That does not mean the Italian striker did not also have success in Europe as he also led the Serie A in goals for a season with Lazio.
Roberto Donadoni (MetroStars)
Donadoni is another Italian who graced the Tri-state area with his presence. The winger spent his best years with A.C. Milan during their golden years in the late 80s and early 90s. During that time he won six Serie A titles and three Champions League trophies with the Rosoneri.
Youri Djorkaeff (New York Red Bulls)
Like many on this list, Djorkaeff won a World Cup. The midfield maestro was a part of France's 1998 winning squad. Currently the Frenchman is Les Bleus seventh leading goalscorer all-time.
10. Rafael Marquez (New York Red Bulls)
Rafa's spot on this list was in jeopardy simply because of the general dislike for him among Red Bull fans. Despite this resentment from the fan base, his achievements speak for themselves. In his prime, the Mexican was one of the top center backs in the world for FC Barcelona. "El Kaiser" is the only player to ever captain his country at four World Cups. After his spell with the Red Bulls, Marquez returned to Mexico before making the move back to Europe to play with Hellas Verona this past season.
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9. Raul Gonzalez ( New York Cosmos)
Raul, as he is affectionately known, made his name representing his boyhood club Real Madrid. He led Los Merengues to six La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League titles. He is the club's all-time leading goal scorer and had the same distinction in the Champions League until two guys named Messi and Cristiano passed him.
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8. David Villa (New York CIty FC)
New York City FC's first big name signing, Villa has been carrying the team so far this season. El Guaje has been leading front lines all of his career so it is nothing new to him. Villa became Spain's all-time leading goalscorer after he passed the man right before him on this list. Unlike his countryman, Villa was able to win major trophies with his national side winning the EURO 2008 and the World Cup with La Roja.
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7.Frank Lampard (New York City FC)
After a period of uncertainty Frank has finally made the trip across the pond. The Englishman has long been terrorizing Premier League defenses with his late runs into the box which have made him the highest scoring midfielder in league history. Despite representing Manchester City this past year, Lampard is a Chelsea legend winning countless trophies with the Blues including three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League Trophy.
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6. Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC)
Pirlo is the most recent addition to the glut of stars that have called New York their home. Like fine wine, Pirlo has only improved with age. At the age of 36 the Italian maestro was a key cog in a Juventus midfield that reached the Champions League final this past season. During his career Pirlo won almost everything he possibly could including the World Cup, The Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup, the Italian League and Cup; the Italian regista will be hoping the add an MLS Cup to that list.
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5. Carlos Alberto (New York Cosmos)
The Brazilian is the first member of this list who plied his trade during a different time than any of the aforementioned players. Like most Brazilian fullbacks Carlos Alberto is known for his darting runs forward. In 1970 he captained a Verde Amarela team that included players like Pele. I sadly never had the pleasure of watching him play, but from I have seen from videos, the hype about him is certainly warranted.
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4. Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)
Being a lifelong Arsenal fan [Editor's note: Yuck] might have elevated Henry's position on this list. Despite representing various big clubs like Juventus, Barcelona, and Monaco, Henry made his name with London club. He is the club's all time leading scorer and was a part the club's infamous Invincible's team that went unbeaten in league play during the 2003-2004 EPL season. King Henry is also his country's leading scorer with 51 goals. Football's greatest individual achievement eluded Henry as he finished second in FIFA World Player of Year voting twice.
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3. Franz Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos)
The real Kaiser, Beckenbauer is one the best Germans to ever play, which is saying a lot. Beckenbauer was twice named European Footballer of the Year (which is now known as World Player of the Year). On any other list winning a World Cup would be a major achievement, but here it is the norm. After his playing days ended Beckenbauer's success continued as he joined a very elite group of people who have won the World Cup as both a player and a manager.
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2. Lothar Matthäus (MetroStars)
I spent a lot of time deliberating about which German to place in my number two spot, and in the end I went with Matthäus. Matthäus is the only German to ever be named FIFA World Player of the year. What made Matthäus so great was not only how talented he was but how long he was able to perform at the highest level. The midfielder is Die Mannschaft's most capped player and is the only player to appear in five World Cups. In 1999, at the age of 38 he won the German Player of the Year award nine years after winning it initially.
[Editor's note: He sucked with the MetroStars and is one of the worst signings in team history, possibly worse than Rafa Marquez in terms of disappointment.]
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1. Pelé (New York Cosmos)watch.0.html
Pelé's spot on the top of this list needs no explanation, but I will provide one anyway. O Rei is commonly considered the greatest player to ever play the beautiful game and with good reason. He amassed 1,281 goals in 1,363 games. Around this 58 years ago Pelé made his first appearance on the world stage for the Brazilian national team at the tender age 16 years old. "The Black Pearl" remains the only player to ever win three World Cups.